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Miners deny hand in lawmakers’ decision on Lopez

Large-scale miners, through the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), denied using their financial might to influence lawmakers and secure the rejection of Regina Lopez as environment secretary.

COMP vice president Ronald S. Recidoro said that while the industry group opposed Lopez’s appointment as head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, this was done through legitimate means.

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“We deny that [using lobby money] absolutely,” Recidoro told the Inquirer. “The chamber opposed Lopez’s confirmation on principle and aired our views on all legitimate platforms accordingly, including filing formal opposition in the CA [Commission on Appointments] and the appropriate cases in court. She was unfit and unqualified for the position.”

The COMP lawyer said Lopez did not have a balanced view of her function as environmental manager and natural resource regulator.

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“That was on full display during her confirmation hearings and we believe the CA members took note of how poorly she answered the questions propounded to her,” he said.

Data from the London Metals Exchange show that two trading days before the CA deliberated and decided whether Lopez would be confirmed or rejected, nickel prices were pegged at $9,480 per metric ton.

When news of Lopez’s rejection spread, the price plunged 2 percent to $9,275 on May 3. This went down further to $9,000 on May 4 and to $8,930 on May 5, which was 11.5 percent lower than before the CA meeting.

According to the World Bank, global nickel prices eased by 5 percent to an average of $10,273 per metric ton in the first quarter of 2017 from $10,787 in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The multilateral lender said nickel prices fell quarter-on-quarter because of expectations of renewed low-grade nickel exports from Indonesia due to the partial reversal of that country’s ore export ban.

“Meanwhile, in early February, the Philippines announced closure of 23 of the country’s 41 mines, and the suspension of five others, on environmental grounds,” the World Bank said. The affected mines account for more than one-third of the country’s 2016 nickel production.

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TAGS: Business, Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP)
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